GOSHEN -- Although only one team put in a bid to redevelop the River Race area along the Millrace canal, a group of area residents will come to the Goshen Redevelopment Commission this afternoon with a list of concerns about the proposal.
The commission has spent the last several years acquiring and cleaning up residential and industrial properties along the canal, west of Third Street, for redevelopment.
The commission advertised for bids in December and extended the deadline by a month, but only one team bid on the project. The leader of that team is Coachmen's locally based All-American Homes company, which makes pre-fabricated "green" buildings. The contract hasn't been awarded, with the city and All-American in private negotiations -- a fact that doesn't sit well with some observers.
Some local residents want the city to slow down at this point in the process. Adam Scharf is one of those people.
"This critical, decision-making moment of planning and visioning really shouldn't be an aspect that's rushed or hurried or limited due to some sense of urgency about building fast, rather than building in a way that's most beneficial to the local economy, to local citizens, to the quality of life of people in Goshen," Scharf said Monday.
Many of the concerns the commission will hear -- at the 4 p.m. meeting at 111 E. Jefferson St. -- are ones under negotiation between the city and All-American.
* Price: Just like the commission, residents don't like the offer of just under $1 million for property the commission spent $3.5 million to purchase. According to the city attorney, the offering price would have to come up significantly for the deal to go through.
* Use of the land on the canal's west side: The spot north of Shanklin Park is a sticking point for some. The commission offered it for development, and All-American argues that parcel needs to be developed to make the project cost-effective. Scharf argues it should be additional green space. There's also a discrepancy over how much of the site, now industrial, sits above the flood plain.
* How "green" is green?: Scharf argues all development should be certified by a third party as "green." The proposal includes highly insulated buildings with solar panels and some power drawn from the canal using technology from Lucid Energy. All-American said its buildings meet green standards, but that certification is an unnecessary cost that would be passed on to the eventual homeowners.
* Use of existing structures: The old Hawks Furniture building would be re-used, but aside from that most existing buildings, including nine homes, would be razed. Scharf argues that shouldn't happen.
In addition to those issues, Scharf argues there are local firms interested in the project, though none submitted proposals because of the strict requirements in the city's call for proposals. Scharf said All-American didn't adhere to those guidelines, so other developers should get a shot at making more flexible pitches, he said. It would be, he said, "prudent to reopen a bidding process to allow more ideas, more firms to have an opportunity and not necessarily allow exclusive negotiating rights for one firm."